Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Processed Plastic Co F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter - Blk SP

Designed by Lockheed's legendary Skunkworks, the F-117 was the first operational aircraft designed around stealth technology. It first flew in 1981 but because of the secrecy surrounding the project, wasn't made public until 1988 and made its combat debut in the first Persian Gulf War of 1991. Referred to as a 'fighter' it is however an attack aircraft having no defensive armament. The F-117 was retired in 2008 with the advent of the F-22 entering the inventory.

Finding more modern era aircraft as strictly 'cheap' toys, vs. expensive limited edition collector's items, is always a challenge and a theme I keep coming around to here on the blog. I was fortunate enough to latch on to this very simply made plane from the Processed Plastic Co. It measures 8" (20.32cm) L x 12 1/2" (31.75cm) wingspan x 2 1/12" (6.35cm) H and has a opening canopy. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

The F-117 static display at Nellis AFB. We used to see these fairly often flying around the skies and they made regular appearances at the Aviation Nation Air Show here but now it looks as though they've become museum pieces.

Odd Eats: Crickets and Ants and Worms Oh My!

How many of you out there are adventuresome eaters, not afraid to try something odd or unusual? Well, I'm kind of in that category and always wondered where a person could find the kind of odd eats I've seen on the Travel Channel or Food Network.  Well, the other day I had a chance to push the limits a tad. I found this local vendor selling boxes of crickets, larvae, and ant wafers in assorted flavors - they even had scorpions in a sucker! So, I decided to test the waters first with this assortment because at 2-for-$5 it was starting to get pricey for me. So far I've had the BBQ flavored larvae. The verdict? Not a very strong BBQ flavor and the consistency reminded me a little bit of small pieces of Chicharrón or pork rind snacks. The package has 1.9g of larvae of which 1g is protein. Is that a good ratio? Dunno but it seems to me one eould have to eat a lot of these to get the daily recomended 60g of protein. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

BTW - I'm the only one in the house willing to eat these!! hahahahaha 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Letters From Ray: A World War II Army Private's Letters Home - Pt 9 Epilogue

The Battle for Hatten-Rittershofen
January 3 - January 20, 1945
(Portions condensed from Wikipedia:

The battle for the twin towns of Hatten and Rittershofen, France has been called one of the greatest defensive battles of World War II. As the Germans launched their last major counter-offensive of the war, Operation Nordwind, they were beat back in the Vosges mountains. The Germans then committed the 21st Panzer and 25th Panzer Grenadier Divisions in an attempt to get to Hagenau and threaten Strasbourg and the Saverne Gap. They did this by first attacking Hatten and Rittershofen on the Alsatian Plain. The 14th Armored was the final reserve force available to stop the offensive and was ordered to take up positions around the two towns. The fighting was firece, so fierce that succes was measured in the buildings and rooms taken. The Americans controlled the western half of the villages and the Germans the eastern half. Villages so small as to seemingly be able to throw a rock from one end to the next. It was an epic battle fit for Hollywood and losses were high on both sides. The 47th Tank Battalion had only 17 tanks left out of 50. The 48th Tank Battalion (Raymond's unit) was down to nearly squad strength.

The battle lasted for seventeen days allowing the VI Corps to re-group to prepared defensive positions. Once that was accomplished the 14th and supporting units withdrew south to join the rest of the army. Two Presidential Unit Citations were awarded for their actions during the battle - although four nominations were actually submitted. Col. Hans von Luck, who commanded the 21st Panzer Division at Hatten-Rittershoffen wrote in his memoirs "Panzer Commander" that the battle ".... was one of the hardest and most costly battles that had ever raged on the western front." 

In his book "The History Of The 14th Armored Division" by Captain Joseph Carter (no publisher listed in the book) Capt. Carter ends his chapter on the battle thus:

"It snowed that night of January 20, and the long lines of vehicles - not as long now - moved slowly down the black streets, through the black Alsation towns; and wreckers skidded off the road and were abandoned, and a 155 MM gun skidded and blocked the column for miles; and the men sat in the tangle of vehicles and thought: "If the Krauts attack now, Jesus, Jesus." The enemy did not attack; Hatten was empty, horses and cows and pigs poking in the desolation, looking for food, and people timidly, shockedly, coming out of the cellars."....

..."And the men of the 14th, shivering in their vehicles that snowy night?
    There was relief, but not a real relief.
    Behind were their friends and their comrades, in the rubble of those towns and on those fields, and more of their friends and comrades were in the hospitals.
     And they were reluctant to leave. They did not want to pull out. They did not want to give up the bloody vicious towns later to be compared with Stalingrad. They felt a little as if they were giving up, as if they had fought and suffered and died in vain.
      Behind was Hatten and Rittershofen, and behind was the fighting. Behind were endless artillery barrages, the screaming and the waiting. Behind were the fires and the dead; and behind was the German High Command's broken offensive.
       And it was a bitter grating night, that night, a night of tears in the soul, and it snowed."

Visiting Rittershofen

In  mid-1985 ( I never did record the exact date) Bettina and I took a day trip to Rittershofen. The trip took longer than expected - geez, it didn't look so far on the map! - being about a three hour drive from Zweibrücken. Michelle was only a month or two old and Nathalie was a year old, so we were not at all mentally ready to do an overnighter. As it turns out the town was fast asleep. We went on a weekend and the town was locked up tighter than a drum and barely a car other than our own was anywhere in sight. We probably stayed for a half hour, took some pictures, turned around and went back home. But at least I got to see the town and the area where the battle took place. The landscape here was relatively flat and it's not hard to imagine where two opposing armored forces would have a field day - a veritable 'turkey shoot'. The town was neat and clean, and....sombre.

The picturesque Fachwerkhäuser bely the carnage that once took place here.

The town's memorial to wartime losses which reads:



The only two reminders of conflict that we could readily see were the monument and this bunker which lay right off one of the main roads cutting through town

For further  reading Mat recommended the following:
Website above has document detailing 48th Tank Battalion day-to-day activities in Rittershoffen…see document pages 20-30
Website has even more detailed day to day recollection and event
See Chapter 4 pgs. 37
Has book indicating story of 48th In Europe
Text that covers 14th Division
“The Final Crisis” book that we may want to read on January 1945

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Letters From Ray: A World War II Army Private's Letters Home - Pt 8

"It snowed that night of January 20, and the long lines of vehicles - not as long now - moved slowly down the black streets, through the black Alsation towns....

....And it was a bitter grating night, that night, a night of tears in the soul, and it snowed."


December 24, 1944

Dear La Verne, Donna, & Kathy

Well for it is Christmas Eve and I haven’t sent out Christmas greetings to my sisters as yet.  I’m sure you’ll forgive me when you realize that I’ve really covered a lot of miles since Thanksgiving.  I’ve left Italy and am now in France.  I’ve been moving continuously since Thanksgiving stopping only a couple of days in different Replacement centers.  I’m still in a  ? Rapple Depple but it shouldn’t be long before I hit an outfit and then you can write.

I hope Santa Claus was good to you kids.  I’d have liked to send something but it was impossible, believe me.  If possible take a picture of the tree and send it to me That would cheer me up a lot.

I’m closing let me wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest New Year ever.  Maybe I’ll be home for next Christmas.  By now.
                                                Love your brother Ray [SM1] 

 [SM1]Page 12.  So sad to think that this is the last letter he sends, the timing, whom he sent it too, when the war ends.  Damn.

Last Letter from Ray. 
Killed January 13, 1945: Rittershoffen, France
Buried US Military Cemetery at St. Avold, France 23 miles east of Metz, France
Ray returned home January 1949 three years after his death

(end of letter)

Observations by Opa Fritz

Tomorrow we'll post the epilogue to our series.

1) Rapple Depple is slang for 'Replacement Depots' defined by Merriam-Webster as: "a military installation usually in a theater of operations where replacements are assembled and then assigned to fill vacancies in military units."

2) After reading his letters and observing that he appeared to have moved around or been transferred to several different positions I wonder what he was really like. Was he a rabble rouser or is that simply the way the Army operated???

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wondertreats, Inc, No. KFSF0816-492 Galactic Warriors

It's been a few years since we posted a Wondertreats spaceman. These things come in ready-made Easter baskets which include the basket, some candy, and a couple/few toys. I have been on the look-out for newer looking spacemen but either the same one keeps popping up every year or all I see is the large sized guy - about 12" high or so. This year though we have a newcomer to the spacemen collection and he's called simply a Galactic Warrior and stands 5" (12.7cm)  H x 3 1/4" (9.52cm) w. These things, while looking like a Transformer, don't have much articulation. The arms raise and lower - that's it. While this year's figure only has one weapon, he does have a light in his chest which lights up ehrn a button on his back is pressed. These are really simple toys and I do like the looks of them and hopefully Wondertreats will have more variety in the future. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina.

Here's one posted back on May 5, 2014 and called the Galaxy Defender Robot

Here's this year's find